Libertatem Magazine

Heart Ailment Is Not a Disability Rules Supreme Court

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Heart ailment even though can restrict a person’s activities is not considered a disability. In an appeal filed before the Supreme Court, the Court explains the grounds for what constitutes a disability and why heart ailment does not qualify as a disability.


An appeal was filed before the Supreme Court, challenging the Patna High Court order that denied a seaman right to disability compensation in par with an order that was proclaimed by the Shipping Corporation of India. The petitioner has suffered from difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain and swelling in legs which on consulting the doctor was diagnosed as Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart ailment.


The main contention of the petition was for the Court to recognise heart ailment as a disability. Another request put forward by the petitioner was for 100% compensation to be awarded for the disability in accordance with the provisions of Clause 21 of the National Maritime Board Agreement.

Decision of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court held that heart ailment cannot be considered as a disability under the neither the 1995 nor the 2016 Act. The three-judge bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy held that

“A heart ailment is not covered within the definition of disability in the Act and we would hesitate to import words, which the legislature chose not to, in their definition of disability.”

The Court reminded that the definition of ‘person with disabilities’ was “a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment which prevents his full and effective participation in society” under Section 2(s) of the Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016.

The Court held that

“The dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant is neither a specified disability nor is the same relatable to the broad spectrum of impairments which hinders his full and effective participation in society.” 

The Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision and dismissed the petition by quoting that, “Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant does not bring his case within the ambit of either the 1995 Act or of the 2016 Act.”

The Court also dismissed the appeal for 100%compensation by stating that, “100% compensation is payable to a seaman under Clause 5.9. F (ii) in a situation where a seaman is found medically unfit for sea service, as a result, injury, while in employment. But it is not the case of either side that the appellant had suffered any accidental injury in course of his engagement in the sea vessel”

The Court added that,

“the Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition may prevent the man from performing sea service but the same will not be an impediment for him to perform other jobs.”

Since there was no connecting link between the condition and the job, the compensation could not be granted the Court stated while dismissing both the appeals and upheld the High Court order.

Nawal Kishore vs Union of India (LL 2021 SC 74) is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgement from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also contribute blog, articles, story tip, judgment and many more and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

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